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Robert Downey Jr. should (but won't) get an Oscar
January 23, 2009 12:41 PM   Subscribe


 
That's nice. Am I to care about this?
posted by converge at 12:42 PM on January 23, 2009


yes. very much.
posted by JVA at 12:44 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's lucky he was nominated for a comedy in the first place.
posted by smackfu at 12:46 PM on January 23, 2009


An article that weaves a hostory that lumps together Angeline Jolie in "A Mighty Heart" with Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer" has a writer that is either a total blowhard or a total troll.
posted by piratebowling at 12:46 PM on January 23, 2009


I agree, they should give Robert Downey Jr a 'posthumas' Oscar® instead of Heath.
posted by mazola at 12:47 PM on January 23, 2009


Heath was great but Robert Downey Jr. should win.
Oh there.
That's much better.
posted by willmize at 12:47 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


White face vs black face.
posted by brevator at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


He's a lead farmer motherfucker!
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


He deserves an Oscar, but I'm not so sure about that trash TV talk show he did in the 1980s.
posted by crapmatic at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


That LA Times piece is one of the worst-informed articles on blackface I've ever read. It's total baloney. If his crappy list doesn't have Watermelon Man on it, or acknowledge how much American cinema has, onscreen and off, been confronting and grappling for 30 years with the notion of race in representation above and beyond this simplistic "white as black == bad" horseshit, I am not inclined to take him as knowledgeable on the subject of racial portrayals.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:50 PM on January 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


From the "should win" link:

The sleeping pills Heath Ledger was reportedly taking have been embroiled in controversy in Australia, where hundreds have had bizarre and potentially dangerous reactions to the drug.... Some 500 people described odd behaviours from walking, crashing cars, having sex and falling from balconies after popping a pill.

This sounds like a typical weekend for many Australians I know.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:51 PM on January 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


The LA Times guy is a moron.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:51 PM on January 23, 2009


Heath Ledger is 14 to 1 on... and I'm still tempted to have a punt

(Oh if he doesn't get it I worry that an army of frenzied fan boys will burn Hollywood to the ground)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:53 PM on January 23, 2009


Um. Seriously. This is a post?

And seriously.... The reason Heath should win is because it's a genuine, remarkable performance. The kind that is a perfect combination of actor ingenuity, and intellectual direction. Plus his role has substantial qualities and an interesting philosophy behind it. Joker's deconstructionist/contrarian anarchy is fascinating and watch Heath mix such a strange mix of careful introspection with pure 100% nihilistic glee. The theater was on the edge of its seat. The movie itself? Decent enough, but let's make no mistake this was picture lifted into the stratosphere by one performance (unlike The Wrestler, which is a perfect film through and through).

So this Robert Downey Jr. nonsense? Yeah. He's great. He's going off riffing and having a hell of a time. But it's all meaningless and sillyness. Sure there's some muddled reflexive stuff about acting and pretending to be other people, but it really doesn't even make sense. Trust me. I love RDJ but I thought he had a better role in Iron Man.

I always maintain that a real acting performance has to feature a kind of reality. RDJ's character in TT is fun, silly, strange, and well performed for sure. Heath's Joker is just as "unreal" in some technical ways, but features the kind of crystalline thought process and dark behavioral anti-humanity that scares us to our bones.

Plus Tropic Thunder wasn't a good movie, and instead just an assembledge of funny ideas/performances that went into overkill.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 12:54 PM on January 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


> Because comedies don't usually get nominated for Oscars, you ask? No, because people wearing blackface don't usually win widespread approval in this day and age.

Oh, for god's sake. Downey was playing a *character* in blackface, and this character is repeatedly pilloried and made to look stupid and egotistical for doing so within the film. If anything, his character is an attack on the wrongheadedness of blackface (much as Stiller's "Simple Jack" persona satirizes actors, not the mentally disabled).

I really didn't think much of Tropic Thunder, but if you're gonna get upset about anything in that film, how about Tom Cruise's Jewface?
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:54 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Earlier this month, Ledger won the best supporting actor title at the Golden Globes for his frightening turn as The Joker - a role orginally made famous by Jack Nicholson. Cesar Romero.

Seriously, the writing of these articles is terrible. I know they're media rags, and all, but I thought history was at least somewhat important?

Never mind the fact that Ledger's Joker was the first genuinely accurate portrayal of the Joker in a live-action Batman, matched only by Hamill's performances in the animated series, but I guess we comic-book readers are supposed to be happy that these movies get made at all, amirite?
posted by explosion at 12:54 PM on January 23, 2009


Josh Brolin for Closetcaseface

Robert Downey Jr. for Blackface

Philip Seymour Hoffman for Closetcaseface

Heath Ledger for TomWaitsface

Michael Shannon for Crazyface
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:57 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Downey and Ledger are both great actors and each deserve to win at the Obamas. I mean, Oscars.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:57 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Amy Adams for Purtyface

Penélope Cruz for Crazyface

Viola Davis for Boogerface

Taraji P. Henson for Whatsherface

Marisa Tomei for Don'tLookAtMyTitsLookAtMyFace
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:58 PM on January 23, 2009


False. Heath should win. "Tropic Thunder" was highly overrated, and Downey was better in Iron Man, anyway. Ledger's was a legendary performance.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 12:58 PM on January 23, 2009


Nthing the LA Times guy being a tool. He references this as an example of cinema black face. I'm surprised he didn't bring up the "Black Plague" to further his point.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 12:59 PM on January 23, 2009


I’m sure someone is ticking off “It’s just happens to be black paint on his face that is in no way an attempt at racial caricature” off of a bingo card and tutting at you right now.
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on January 23, 2009


Less than zero.
posted by gman at 1:06 PM on January 23, 2009


The title of the article in the FPP's last link: "Dear Academy: Don’t Give Heath Ledger A Posthumas Award."

But, be sure to give seriouslymcmillan a working spell checker!
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on January 23, 2009


The reason Heath should win is because it's a genuine, remarkable performance....

Plus, he's a hell of a planner. Planting that bomb in that guy's stomach before he even got arrested? Brilliant!
posted by inigo2 at 1:10 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I liked Tropic Thunder, but I enjoyed it more when it was called Galaxy Quest. Where was Alan Rickman's Oscar nod, I ask you?
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:10 PM on January 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


A check of IMDB and the last time Downey was nominated was for Chaplin... and he was beaten by Al Pachino for Scent Of A Woman... ho ha! Now, that was robbery!

Still there's always Guy Richie's Sherlock Holmes next year, I'm sure he'll get another Oscar nod for that..
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:13 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Every spring, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents awards for outstanding achievement in all aspects of mainstream cinema. These are the Academy Awards. Mainstream cinema is a major industry in the United States, and so are the Academy Awards. The AAs' notorious commercialism and hypocrisy disgust many of the millions and millions and millions of viewers who tune in during prime time to watch the presentations. It is not a coincidence that the Oscars ceremony is held during TV's Sweeps Week. We pretty much all tune in, despite the grotesquerie of watching an industry congratulate itself on its pretense that it's still an art form, of hearing people in $5,000 gowns invoke lush clichés of surprise and humility scripted by publicists, etc.-the whole cynical postmodern deal-but we all still seem to watch. To care. Even though the hypocrisy hurts, even though opening grosses and marketing strategies are now bigger news than the movies themselves, even though Cannes and Sundance have become nothing more than enterprise zones. But the truth is that there's no more real joy about it all anymore. Worse, there seems to be this enormous unspoken conspiracy where we all pretend that there's still joy. That we think it's funny when Bob Dole does a Visa ad and Gorbachev shills for Pizza Hut. That the whole mainstream celebrity culture is rushing to cash in and all the while congratulating itself on pretending not to cash in. Underneath it all, though, we know the whole thing sucks."

from "Big Red Son", DFW
posted by plexi at 1:15 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Y'all postin' in a troll thread.
posted by mullingitover at 1:15 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, I see EVERYTHING with Alan Rickman, who lately is GO TO EVIL BARON, I guess... and I would have given it to him, most of all, for Robin Hood. Call me crazy. He's delicious in that! Absolutely terrif.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:15 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Tropic Thunder" was highly overrated

And The Dark Knight wasn't?

Neither should win. Downey, because, well, meh, and Ledger for the same reason.

If Ledger wins, it won't be because of his performance. He's going to win, and we all know why.

When he does win the Oscar, the statuette should be cut in half and handed to Jack Nicholson and Anthony Hopkins.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:18 PM on January 23, 2009


meh
posted by lalochezia at 1:20 PM on January 23, 2009


I liked Downey's performance, I certainly wouldn't be upset if he won for it, but I still have to hold out hope for Ledger. His Joker was astonishing and disturbing and probably the best performance of his career.

The thing that bugs me is that Ledger deserves it, but if he gets it I'm certain that everyone will say it's because it was a sympathy vote. And it shouldn't be, he should win it because he made the Joker fucking scary, like the character was meant to be.
posted by quin at 1:20 PM on January 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


If Ledger wins, it won't be because of his performance. He's going to win, and we all know why.

That's how Brandon Lee got his!
posted by Artw at 1:20 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


ho ha! Now, that was robbery!

That was a robbery. Your brilliant, complex performance losing out to an admittedly great actor hamming it up for two hours...see where I'm going with this?
posted by Roman Graves at 1:21 PM on January 23, 2009


Trolling is poisoning our culture.
posted by fullerine at 1:23 PM on January 23, 2009


Lacking Subtlety said "The kind that is a perfect combination of actor ingenuity, and intellectual direction. Plus his role has substantial qualities and an interesting philosophy behind it. Joker's deconstructionist/contrarian anarchy is fascinating and watch Heath mix such a strange mix of careful introspection with pure 100% nihilistic glee."

Yes, clearly he reached deeply within himself and redefined the ontological paradigm whilst simultaneously integrating existential bathos into his portrayal of - what was it again?... Oh that's right, he was pretending to be the Joker in a Batman movie.
posted by milkwood at 1:24 PM on January 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


He's going to win, and we all know why.

To finally make up for Hollywood's slight to the gay community for not winning for Brokeback Mountain?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on January 23, 2009


Weak sauce. Robert Downey Jr. should win for Iron Man, obviously.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:24 PM on January 23, 2009


Both were very good performances, in above average, but not great movies. The articles, as well as this debate are totally preposterous.

Luis Guzmáns performance in Beverly Hills Chihuahua was pure gold. The nomination should have been his. He was fucking robbed!
posted by onkelchrispy at 1:25 PM on January 23, 2009


The AAs' notorious commercialism and hypocrisy disgust many of the millions and millions and millions of viewers who tune in during prime time to watch the presentations.

What a load of crap. The millions and millions and millions of viewers who tune in to watch the presentations really like them and enjoy commercial movies and aren't disgusted at all. The disgust is limited to a bunch of embittered film school grads whining that they can't catch a break.
posted by deanc at 1:27 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm astounded that there are people out there who DIDN'T think The Dark Knight was on of the best movies of the year. If it came down to a race between The Dark Knight and Tropic Thunder, I'm pretty sure that TT would lose out before they even got out the gate. Are there other movies up for this award that we could talk about? I know there were some pretty good releases in 08.
posted by Bageena at 1:27 PM on January 23, 2009


*one of the best

Sorry, I'm sick and not posting well.
posted by Bageena at 1:27 PM on January 23, 2009


Agreed, quin. Whenever someone tells me that Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight was overrated and that he'll only win because he overdosed and died, I wonder if they were watching the same movie I was. Even now, I can't stand my SO smirking at me and whispering "why so serious"?

Though that might speak more to me than it does to Ledger...
posted by Phire at 1:27 PM on January 23, 2009


Mercedes Benz deserves a special Oscar nod for supporting Sex and the City, a classic work of cinematography that dazzles due to the great work of its sponsors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 PM on January 23, 2009


And he didn't even have to go full retard.
posted by organic at 1:31 PM on January 23, 2009


I thought the portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight was fantastic. I've never seen Tropic Thunder. I don't really give a shit about the Academy Awards. None of you really care what I have to say about this anyway.
posted by owtytrof at 1:34 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


The disgust is limited to a bunch of embittered film school grads whining that they can't catch a break.

Agreed. But you know who I hate more? People who make generalizations. All of them.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:34 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


How the fuck can so many people talk this much about Blackface and not mention Bamboozled?
posted by freebird at 1:36 PM on January 23, 2009


I hate when Posthumas is on Saturday and I don't get free day off work.
posted by sanko at 1:37 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The disgust is limited to a bunch of embittered film school grads whining that they can't catch a break.

Hey, can it. I'm disgusted by their complicity in the outdated nationalization of cinemas and their skewed presentation of the potential of cinema through their categories and their laziness. They fuck art films over, year after year, which is fine on one hand, because, yes, they are a mere popularity contest, but they preclude, to an extent, exposure to artier, independent features from the general public by presenting THESE dozen American films as the qualitative best, job done, when they really are not usually the best by any critical appraisal. Film as commerce, and not as art. That is an outright tragedy.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:42 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


People still consider the Oscar's relevant?
posted by scarello at 1:43 PM on January 23, 2009


Came for the "posthumas" fun, and left satisfied.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2009


You know, most of these movies that a lot of Oscars, I can’t stand them. They’re all safe geriatric coffee-table dog shit, you know? All those assholes make are unwatchable movies from unreadable books. Mad Max, that’s a movie. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, that’s a movie. And Coming Home in a Body Bad that was a fucking movie. It was the only movie that won a lot of Oscars with balls… I mean since The Deer Hunter
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:45 PM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whenever someone tells me that Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight was overrated and that he'll only win because he overdosed and died, I wonder if they were watching the same movie I was.

He played Snidely Whiplash. It's a fucking cartoon villain. Dye your hair green, put on some scary scarry makeup, wear green and purple, and talk with an irritating voice. At best, there's a dash of Hannibal Lecter, but he, too, was a cookie-cutter villainous villain.

Oscar please.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:45 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


> Yeah, I'm astounded that there are people out there who DIDN'T think The Dark Knight was on of the best movies of the year.

*raises hand*

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed it. I paid full-price to see it, and I felt like I got my money's worth. But only just. If you take away Ledger's performance, which was all-time great, you're left with a fairly bloated (two villains, one of whom was much less compelling than the other) run-of-the-mill action film with delusions of grandeur (all those allusions to Real Life Issues!), too many scenes consisting entirely of expository dialogue, a plot that - when you really thought about it - didn't make much sense, and the typical Hollywood approach to editing action scenes (1200 cuts/minute).
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:46 PM on January 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I though Tropic Thunder was a blast, mainly because of how it was a bunch of Hollywood types making fun of Hollywood. Since the Academy is made of up Hollywood types patting each other on the back, if RDJ wins, I think smug/smarm quotient involved would cause LA to implode.
posted by sciurus at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


> How the fuck can so many people talk this much about Blackface and not mention Bamboozled?

Krippendorf's Tribe. WHAT. THE. FUCK. DISNEY?
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:49 PM on January 23, 2009


So, basically, Heath Ledger shouldn't get an Oscar because he died. According to the last link.

I mean, there was nothing in that article about how his performance wasn't actually good enough, and thus the only reason is his death, and that's not good enough. Which might be a valid complaint (personally I think he did a brilliant job, and made the movie worth watching, but I am willing to entertain arguments that other actors were better). But the article made no mention of acting.

Just...don't give it to him. Because he took drugs, and died. Period-the-end.

That bugs me for some reason. If you're going to argue that he doesn't deserve it, or someone else does, well, make a case based on his actual acting. Even if the Academy doesn't.
posted by sandraregina at 1:50 PM on January 23, 2009


How the fuck can so many people talk this much about Blackface and not mention Bamboozled?
posted by freebird at 1:36 PM on January 23 [+] [!]


Because no one saw it and everyone forgot that Spike Lee is a great filmmaker, who is invested in interesting ideas (even when they don't fully work).
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 1:52 PM on January 23, 2009


Kirk Lazarus: Man, I don't drop character 'till I done the DVD commentary.

Hilarious, but not quite Oscar worthy. But hey, getting a comedy in there is no small feat!

On the subject of Ledger's Joker. It was fabulous, but I have to wonder how much of that was really just good direction. Read The Killing Joke, as Chris Nolan did. A lot of what you see is in there; there is no doubt that Heath did a great job with it, but it is the choices an actor makes that show you his gift. I'm not sure how much of that shouldn't be properly credited to Nolan.

There is a reason we refer to this as the most accurate portrayal of The Joker yet, and I think THAT is Chris Nolan's dedication and genius. He clearly studied the shit out of the best source material, and really grokked the characters and their interpersonal AS WELL AS THEMATIC relationship.

I really hope he brings The Joker back for a third, hopefully drawing on Arkham Asylum. Heath was great, but someone else could probably pick up where he left off. The Joker is too valuable and fascinating of a character, too essential to Batman for him to be ommitted just because we lost Heath.

.
posted by butterstick at 1:52 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm astounded that there are people out there who DIDN'T think The Dark Knight was on of the best movies of the year.

Are you kidding? Good God, Dark Knight went on about 45 minutes too long. It just went on and on. And on. And kept going on. And long after you were sure they were about to wrap it up, it KEPT GOING ON.

Also: Maggie Gyllenhaal is the big love interest? Seriously? She looks like a beagle. She beagled her way through that whole movie, and the whole damn time I was like, "Why are they all fighting over that poor dog? And isn't someone going to feed it? Who's a good Maggie den? Mmmm? You's a good Maggie yes you is..."

Oh, and meanwhile, that movie is still going on. Yup. Hasn't ended yet. Now we have the whole Harvey Two-Face subplot finally, that's kept us from empathizing with the guy through the whole rest of this INTERMINABLE MESS because we already know he's going to turn into a villain. And we deeply suspect that when he does, we'll have a long dry Joker-less era or period in this fucking neverending glacial farce. And yep, so we do. Thereby losing the only thing that makes this movie worth hanging on through.

Heath Ledger was the only even vaguely watchable thing about The Dark Knight. He should get an Oscar just for helping us all get through that disaster.

Sit Maggie! Good girl.

Tropic Thunder was dumb, but at least not as painful to watch as every other Ben Stiller movie. And watching it didn't risk deep-vein thrombosis or muscular wasting from the protracted stasis.
posted by rusty at 1:52 PM on January 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I'm astounded that there are people out there who DIDN'T think The Dark Knight was on of the best movies of the year.

I would've liked it better if it wasn't full so of "OMG ethical dilemma!" I was fed up with those after all the "kill a baby to avert alien invasion" type arguments in first year philosophy of ethics.

Plus, I felt that the realism of Ledger's performance undermined comic book rules that the Batman universe depends on. Normally, I wouldn't care how the Joker hires and keeps his cronies, or the infeasibility of any number of villainous feats. But with the way the role was played, showing what felt like real viciousness, psychopathy, and nihilism, I couldn't bring myself to buy into the rest of it.

The kid behind me yelling "Holy cow!" about five times per action scene might have had something to do with it to.
posted by ODiV at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2009


Your brilliant, complex performance losing out to an admittedly great actor hamming it up for two hours...see where I'm going with this?

Umm.... which is which?
posted by inigo2 at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm astounded that there are people out there who DIDN'T think The Dark Knight was on of the best movies of the year.

Overlong, jumbled plot, too much ponderous bollocks about white knights and dark knights, too many endings.

Ledger was fantastic though.
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on January 23, 2009


Are you kidding? Good God, Dark Knight went on about 45 minutes too long. It just went on and on. And on. And kept going on. And long after you were sure they were about to wrap it up, it KEPT GOING ON.

And Batman insisted on WHISPERING every. damn. line. Damnit man, you've got a voice, use it!
posted by inigo2 at 1:57 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok, fine, I'll add to the insanity. Dark Knight was a very good action/superhero movie and Ledger's performance was amazing and he should win. RDJ was good in TT, but the movie was lame and not nearly as funny as it wanted to be. I was really excited to see it after everyone raved and when it was over I looked at my husband and we both went "Meh."

Look, can we all agree that RDJ should have won for Chaplin and Heath should have won for Brokeback Mountain?
posted by threeturtles at 1:58 PM on January 23, 2009


but they preclude, to an extent, exposure to artier, independent features from the general public by presenting THESE dozen American films as the qualitative best, job done, when they really are not usually the best by any critical appraisal. Film as commerce, and not as art. That is an outright tragedy.

But the best films "by any critical appraisal" are best determined by critics. The Oscars are industry awards, and therefore can hardly be blamed for seeing films as both art and commerce. Also, they are awards given by the American film industry, so they can hardly be blamed for putting foreign films in a special little category over on the side.

I just don't see the tragedy.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:03 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm gonna judge Dark Knight much harsher than Tropic Thunder, which came out of nowhere and had a very low bar to clear. Batman Begins was so good that the TDK had to really rock out an A game. It came close, but there were a ton of mistakes made; growling Christian Bale? Ugh. The whole 2 face subplot should've been edited down, but I liked the idea of Harvey Dent as Batman's public face. I would've let that breathe a bit before jumping to Two Face, save that for another movie. So yeah, it was too long. And certain elements seemed gimmicky and out of place, specifically the cellphone sonar net. That was just preposterous and unnecessary.

I would've liked to see that moment from the Killing Joke where Batman reciprocates The Jokers premise that they really complete each other. Nolan seemed to get the first half, but didn't seem able to push it all the way through.

ergo Bruce Wayne is fucking batshit nuts.
posted by butterstick at 2:05 PM on January 23, 2009


And you're all forgetting about Maggie Gyllenhaal. I don't want to, like, hammer on this, but really.

"I'm more off-putting!"
"No, I'm more off-putting!"
"Kids, you're both just... awful."
posted by rusty at 2:05 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please continue to let us know who is or is not worthy of your sexual desire, rusty.
posted by ODiV at 2:08 PM on January 23, 2009 [12 favorites]


Y'know what the real tragedy is?

MacInTalk was not nominated for its work in WALL·E.

IT WUZ ROBBED!
posted by mazola at 2:08 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would've let that breathe a bit before jumping to Two Face, save that for another movie.

Yeah, I didn't get this either. Why superhero movies always feel the need to add extra villains is beyond me.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:09 PM on January 23, 2009


Really, I just think there should be a moratorium on posthumous awards. (Well, entertainment awards in general, but, yeah.)

It's unfair to the other nominees--not just because of the sympathy vote, but also the get-more-viewers vote and the if-they-find-out-you-voted-the-other-way-you'll-look-like-an-asshole vote. If a living nominee wins, they get boos and tomatoes.

What's a dead guy going to do with an Oscar, anyway?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:10 PM on January 23, 2009


Yeah, I'm astounded that there are people out there who DIDN'T think The Dark Knight was on of the best movies of the year.

Well, it was a shit year for movies. Dark Knight is part of the reason why, not part of the reason why not. Zero redeeming qualities. Ledger was an average action picture bad guy. If he were still alive, that would be the consensus. It ain't hard to play a one dimensional character--doesn't matter if that character is racist, crazy, or retarded. Unless the character has more going on, it's just a matter of acting racist, crazy, or retarded. It ain't Ledger's fault the Joker's a one-sided coin, but he shouldn't be rewarded for it, either.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:12 PM on January 23, 2009


oh, and Tropic Thunder? You gotta be shitting me. I shut that shit off after 25 minutes. It was more of a mess than DK, which is saying something.

The Oscars should just not happen this year. With the exception of maybe Mickey Rourke and the filmmakers behind The Wrestler, it was a shit ass year for everyone involved.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2009


Plus, he's a hell of a planner. Planting that bomb in that guy's stomach before he even got arrested? Brilliant!

I know! I especially like the part where he had arranged to have two guys named Harvey and Dent killed so as to draw Batman's attention to a bullet fired into the brick wall at the crime scene knowing that bullet would shatter but that Batman would recover it and take it to an improvised crime lab where he would then discover a way to model the shattered bullet on his computer and virtually reassemble the bullet in order to discover a fingerprint belonging to the minion who put the bullet in the gun and in whose apartment Batman would then discover that the funeral guard for Commisioner Loeb's funeral has been bound and gagged and as Batman walks to the window to discover that the apartment overlooks the funeral of the commissioner, he fails to notice that a timer has been set to snap the window shade up at exactly the second that Batman arrives at the window, causing the snipers covering the funeral to fire at the window and allowing the Joker to make his next move! That is tight planning! I can see why audiences were so swept up by this story, which was not at all horseshit.

Look, Heath Ledger benefitted from the same thing that Jack Nicholson did twenty years ago: when you play your big scenes with another actor whose role requires him to cover most of his face, darken his eyes, and speak in a gravelly monotone, it is not hard to command attention. Pretty much all Ledger's other scenes were with Gary Oldman, whose job it was to furrow his brow and gnaw on his moustache. Apart from that, did he ever share the screen from anyone save interchangeable nameless thugs?

It was a decent performance in a pedestrian movie: good in bits, lousy in others. And it will of course win an Oscar (TM) because his movies grossed just shy of a billion dollars and this is the last chance they will have to give one to him.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:15 PM on January 23, 2009 [32 favorites]


I just don't see the tragedy.

You don't see a problem with the way their media-generated position as the culmination of a film "season" grants far-and-away primacy to the films they favor in the awareness of the average American, and why that is unfortunate, from an arts perspective? Is there some other megacoverage of significant cinematic arts which has the ear of America, that I'm forgetting? That's what I want. Meaningful arts coverage and discourse. Not one film maximum per country in one weird ghettoized category most Americans never see. Distribution concerns could follow. I can conceive of a world where more people see My Winnipeg than the Curious Case of Ben blah blah blaaaah, but first they have to be exposed. They might have to learn to deal with subtitles.

If we're going to slash arts education funding, arts journalism could be something of a saving grace, but we're far from seeing that as an effective alternative.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:21 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


To finally make up for Hollywood's slight to the gay community for not winning for Brokeback Mountain?

Yep. That's just it. Generally oscars are given out as apologies for not already having given them. Pacino deserved about a dozen, so he got it for that. And that's why Ledger will get this one. Last chance.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:23 PM on January 23, 2009


(and by that, I meant scent of a woman. No more coffee for me.)
posted by lumpenprole at 2:23 PM on January 23, 2009


I'm with rusty on this one. Both movies were overrated but at least TT was mildly enjoyable. The Dark Knight was impressive in many ways but over-indulgent.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 2:39 PM on January 23, 2009


Because no one saw it and everyone forgot that Spike Lee is a great filmmaker, who is invested in interesting ideas (even when they don't fully work).

Unfortunately Mr Lee (who I consider an American Genius, btw) is often crippled by his unwillingness to let anyone else edit his films. Sure, it was a strength for Malcom X, but there was an epic waiting to be told there. Even his lighter films (Summer of Sam, for instance) suffer from terrible pacing.

That being said, everyone should see 'Get On The Bus'.

/derail
posted by lumpenprole at 2:48 PM on January 23, 2009


May I have the envelope please?

And the winner for this thread is . . . . owtytrof!

HOLY COW!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:52 PM on January 23, 2009


Annoyingfilter; Metafilter: impressive in many ways but over-indulgent.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2009


Good God, Dark Knight went on about 45 minutes too long. It just went on and on.

It really did. Why did they need to have two villains?

I cant imagine watching it again. Its just too long and drawn out. It could have been a perfect action movie. Perhaps someone will Phantom-Edit it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:57 PM on January 23, 2009


Kirk Lazarus: Man, I don't drop character 'till I done the DVD commentary.

Hilarious, but not quite Oscar worthy.


It's Oscar-worthy because Robert Downey Jr actually DOES stay in character on the DVD/Blu-ray commentary!
posted by sexymofo at 3:00 PM on January 23, 2009


Oh man, does your favorite movie ever suck.
posted by Nabubrush at 3:01 PM on January 23, 2009


You don't see a problem with the way their media-generated position as the culmination of a film "season" grants far-and-away primacy to the films they favor in the awareness of the average American, and why that is unfortunate, from an arts perspective?

But why? What's the big deal? My own favorite films tend to get neither critical nor Oscar recognition, yet I don't feel a sense of loss over it. Sure, the Oscars award middlebrow, uplifting films over other movies. They tend to only give costume design awards to period pieces, and acting awards only to the histrionic, because those are the things that the average voter notices. No Country for Old Men is about as challenging a film as will ever win Best Picture. They gave a goddamn writing award to Diablo Cody. These things are all unfortunate. But maybe not a tragedy.

And you know what? I hate subtitles. I endure them (just last night while watching the excellent Sword of Doom, in fact) because they are usually better than dubbing, but I hate them.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2009


RDJ should win for Iron Man. That was far an away the best (and most culturally relevant) movie that came out last year. Joker was impressive, but not groundbreaking, and the plot of the movie was just a long series of deus ex machinae meant to make him look awesome. (Which worked well, as far as it goes, but doesn't make an Oscar-winning film or performance.)
posted by voltairemodern at 3:14 PM on January 23, 2009


I only watch the Oscars to see the dresses.
posted by thivaia at 3:19 PM on January 23, 2009


Film as commerce, and not as art. That is an outright tragedy.

No, really, it isn't.

He played Snidely Whiplash. It's a fucking cartoon villain. Dye your hair green, put on some scary scarry makeup, wear green and purple, and talk with an irritating voice.

To his credit, Ledger played the only genuinely credible, scary, villainous on-screen portrayal of the Joker. Everyone else portrays him as a someone mischevious clown. Personally, I think it's worth an Oscar. If what he did was so pedestrian, why the heck has no one else been able to pull it off?

That said, The Dark Knight was a merely good film. I think I was pretty shocked a few months after I saw it to discover it had become one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.
posted by deanc at 3:20 PM on January 23, 2009


Heath Ledger for TomWaitsface

Thank you. Yes. So very much. In a perfect world he would have survived, and in a sequel Tom Waits would have made a cameo as his father.
posted by davejay at 3:22 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


People win awards for doing that?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:27 PM on January 23, 2009


All this nitpicking about Dark Knight is missing the point: culture both embodies and symbolizes the time and place it was made. So what if Dark Knight felt like it was too long, if it alternated between being absolutely clever and not making any sense, if it followed up moments of virtuosity so pure that they pushed you to the edge of your seat with moments that felt pretentious or forced or out of place? So what if it couldn't quite become the epic it wanted to be, or that it never quite stopped alternating between being something wholly new in a good way and something utterly frustrating in a same-old-same-old way? Because in case you missed it, that was 2008 in a nutshell.

It was a year that was batshit crazy, and frustrating, and full of unwelcome returns and reaching new horizons and fear and loathing and spiritual uplift, and I submit to you in utter sincerity that there was not a film that better embodied the entire nation's confused and anxious mood than Dark Knight. Leave aside all the quibbles about it's quality and focus instead on this fact: it is incredibly rare for a film to tap into a zeitgeist like Dark Knight did, and to both feed off the culture and to express it at the same time, and for that reason I can guarantee you that in the decades to come, when people want to study the culture and the film of 2008, they will examine Dark Knight in depth. And they will not study it just because any time a film makes that much money it automatically becomes a historical curiosity; I think they will do so because it actually expressed something about America. There have been six Batman films in the last twenty years, and only one of them has had any pretensions towards politics - but how apt is that in a year where an election which by all counts was the most important in a generation was inescapable wherever you looked? How apt a metaphor is a man who kills while asking "why so serious?" when everyday we face the grim news of multiple wars started by a man who was elected because we wanted to have a beer with him on a mock-news show like the Daily Show?

And for whatever criticisms you have about it's botched and heavy handed metaphors - consider this: while Dark Knight has no direct opinion at all about the economic meltdown, I can't help but think that the scene of a deranged clown in half-melted makeup setting a gigantic pile of money on fire for no reason at all is another image that will stay stuck in America's subconscious craw for a long time to come.

So, in my opinion Dark Knight deserves every award it can possibly get because it did something thats almost impossible to do, and on top of that, I think that despite its flaws, it really does have some truly memorable high points. And to be completely honest with you, I think Heath Ledger is responsible for most of them. And not just because he was damn near perfect in the role - but because he, too, represents something very real about the year of 2008 - the sense that at the very top of your game, when it would matter most financially and critically and professionally, we could all flame out for no damn reason at all, that even though all the anarchy we're used to seeing in the news seems sort of like acting, like something completely far removed from our reality - that sort of bad juju can come home at any time and become very personal very fast.
posted by Kiablokirk at 3:51 PM on January 23, 2009 [15 favorites]


To his credit, Ledger played the only genuinely credible, scary, villainous on-screen portrayal of the Joker.

And Downey Jr. performance was just about the only genuinely funny yet credible use of blackface. He did it much better than Bamboozled, Krippendorf's Tribe, Silver Streak, Soul Man and Fred Armisen.
posted by bobo123 at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2009


But why? What's the big deal? My own favorite films tend to get neither critical nor Oscar recognition, yet I don't feel a sense of loss over it.

I'm a freaking film scholar, do you think I'm supposed to have some other point of view? I don't feel a sense of loss, it's a sense of love. I would like more people to engage with rich, diverse texts. I think that's enriching, I think that challenging and beautiful art going unregarded is one of life's tragedies, and that our culture is continually threatening to smother fine, brilliant art with mediocrity. The Oscars are the flagship of the whole bloated sham, an industry pageant vaunted as a cultural highlight, and that is just not good enough. That is not the way we should represent our culture, imho.

But roll your own, fellas. I've got a four-story marble tower called The Steven Spielberg Building I can do this in.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


And Downey Jr. performance was just about the only genuinely funny yet credible use of blackface.

Hey, that epsiode of Sarah Silverman!
posted by Artw at 3:59 PM on January 23, 2009


Also: Maggie Gyllenhaal is the big love interest? Seriously? She looks like a

OH NO YOU DIN'T

Here's my thing about Ledger: His performance was great, really great in places, but the script let him down. It's not his fault that the character ends the movie exactly the same as he began it, but it is the truth; and while I think Ledger could have nailed the ball out of the park given the chance to take the character somewhere, he didn't get that chance. So I mean, it's a case of an actor doing an amazing job with a one-dimensional role -- taking it, through sheer determination, all the way to two dimensions -- but it's still not exactly a showcase for great acting, because the actor is allowed no range. I imagine he would have had the opportunity to do more in a sequel, but obviously...yeah.

And you know what? I hate subtitles. I endure them (just last night while watching the excellent Sword of Doom, in fact) because they are usually better than dubbing, but I hate them.

I'm mostly quoting this because I love Sword of Doom so much. But also: Subtitles have never, ever bothered me (except when they put them in the black bars at the bottom of the screen, which sounds cool, and I'm sure is if your television doesn't overscan and cut them half-off and force you to watch the movie on your fucking laptop goddammit); they become invisible for me, in fact. Like, it all becomes a seamless thing, and I sometimes don't remember that a movie was subtitled, when I look back on it. I figure this is a positive side-effect of a lifetime of reading comics (there are other, like, less great ones).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:37 PM on January 23, 2009


Subtitles have never, ever bothered me

It all comes down to what I'm doing while I watch. If I'm focused on the movie, no problems with subtitles. But sometimes I like to have something on, and mostly watch it, but also do something else.

That said, maybe tonight I'll finally fire up Old Boy....
posted by inigo2 at 4:51 PM on January 23, 2009


Kiablokirk: This particular plate of beans is now, I think, as overthought as it's gonna get. You win. :-)
posted by rusty at 5:06 PM on January 23, 2009


No, the real crime here is that Wall-E was good enough to transcend the ghetto of Best Animated Film, but alas....did not.

And I am not at all an animation geek. It was just that good.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:45 PM on January 23, 2009


Still, it means PIXAR gets an oscar every year...

I wonder if that will continue if (as looks likely) they degenerate into just knocking out endless Toy Story sequels under Disney.
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on January 23, 2009


Maybe it's because the role was so hyped, but I really didn't see anything spectacular about Ledger's Joker. I mean, it was nice to see someone actually playing The Joker, not "crazy villain in Joker makeup", but I didn't even feel his joker was that inspired. And most of it was, as butterstick said, in the text. I did not pick up on anything that Ledger put into the role that made it special and his. Was it that he deliberately played it subdued instead of over-the-top crazy? Because that's acting 101. In fact, one of the things I disliked about his Joker is that it was too controlled, too cool. His Joker always seemed like he was just acting crazy, not actually crazy. There was no glimmer, no crazy glint in his eye that suggested a lack of control at all. The Joker is awesome because though he seems genuinely crazy and out of control, his plans always come together in the most twisted an insane of ways. You're never sure if it's on purpose, or just some insane luck. I kept waiting for Heath to blow me away, and then the movie was over, and I was still waiting.
posted by Eideteker at 6:04 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, the real crime here is that Wall-E was good enough to transcend the ghetto of Best Animated Film, but alas....did not.


AMEN TO THAT.

And this is the first time that Werner Fucking Herzog has been nominated for an Oscar. WHAT


Robert Downey Jr.? Is a far better actor than the role for which he's been nominated. He deserved to win for Chaplin, he deserves to win an Oscar sometime because he's freakin' fantastic, but for this... eh.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:12 PM on January 23, 2009


After hearing about RDJ's performance in TT, I was expecting the film would be a modern variant on Putney Swope.

Man, did I ever leave the theatre disappointed.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:36 PM on January 23, 2009


Wow, Frozen River got some nominations, which I think is truly amazing and wonderful. I wouldn't have seen it, but most of it was filmed a few miles from my hometown so they actually played it for a week at the local mall cineplex just before Christmas. I really liked it--it's about a white woman and a Mohawk woman who, despite initial distrust, end up working together (for money, of course) to transport illegal immigrants from Canada to the U.S. by putting them in the trunk of a car and driving across the frozen St. Lawrence river. It's a very realistic portrayal of people on the edge of poverty. My mom worked for the county health department for a few years and went door to door in the poorest areas as part of her job, and she said the movie rang true in almost every way.

The impression I get from this thread is that everyone has seen the same 2 or 3 Hollywood movies and mostly hated them. But I see a lot of good in this year's nominations. As another example, I'm shocked and happy to see that Richard Jenkins got a best actor nomination for The Visitor.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:41 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


downey in blackface is stll blackface - hella offensive.
posted by hooptycritter at 7:53 PM on January 23, 2009


Both movies were terrible. And fuck the Academy Awards. There were some great films that came out in 2008, but the Academy Awards will recognize very few of them.

Tropic Thunder was simply not funny. The genius who came up with the "full retard" dialogue thought he was being edgy, but he was being trite, and offensive to boot.

Dark Knight was simply crazy-convoluted to the point of hilarity. And Ledger's performance was something a bad college actor could have pulled off given enough money and amphetamines. Really artless.

But has anyone seen Happy-Go-Lucky? Now there was a film based on strong performances that took an average script and made it amazing.
posted by bardic at 9:22 PM on January 23, 2009


err, money should have read "make-up"

I think his whole performance was a series of cheap gimmicks that drew gravitas for his death.
posted by bardic at 9:25 PM on January 23, 2009


I especially like the part where he had arranged to have two guys named Harvey and Dent killed so as to draw Batman's attention to a bullet fired into the brick wall at the crime scene knowing that bullet would shatter but that Batman would recover it and take it to an improvised crime lab where he would then discover a way to model the shattered bullet on his computer and virtually reassemble the bullet in order to discover a fingerprint belonging to the minion who put the bullet in the gun and in whose apartment Batman would then discover that the funeral guard for Commisioner Loeb's funeral has been bound and gagged and as Batman walks to the window to discover that the apartment overlooks the funeral of the commissioner, he fails to notice that a timer has been set to snap the window shade up at exactly the second that Batman arrives at the window, causing the snipers covering the funeral to fire at the window and allowing the Joker to make his next move!

I'm honestly not sure whether you're being facetious.

I had a different interpretation of what happened. The Joker had two guys named Harvey and Dent killed to say he is going to kill Harvey Dent next because he doesn't just want to cause problems he wants people to know he's going to cause problems and not be able to stop it. Fortunately for Joker, one of his henchman has an apartment right by where the Commissioner's funeral is being held. He kidnaps some police, takes their uniforms, and sets up a timer for when he expects the police to shoot their rifles out of respect for the dead so as to distract everyone from his plan to kill Harvey. The Joker does not expect anyone to find this apartment because the only evidence is a shattered bullet.

However, Batman tries to find a print on the bullet to see if he can find some information on the Joker. Using the print he manages to find the apartment of one of the Joker's henchman. He's all WTF for a moment trying to figure out what's going on when he sees the timer and, too late, the timer goes off as planned. Had he arrived a minute earlier the Joker's plan would have failed.

There's still some implausibilities of course. Particularly the fact that the timer was set to the correct moment during the funeral and that the one print Batman acquired was to the henchman with the apartment located near the funeral. But those can be attributed to movie magic coincidence.
posted by Green With You at 9:26 PM on January 23, 2009


downy jr in blackface was offensive. and that was the point. good comedy rises to the level of farce and forces us to think about uncomfortable and off-topic subjects. if a documentary or drama was made including blackface the outcry would be too loud for anyone to actually engage it.

ledger as the joker still deserves the oscar. and while i probably cant add much to this awesome defense of why i do have something to add. when i saw TT the bar was low and the experience exceeded my expectations. when i saw DK the bar was ridiculously high and somehow the experience managed to meet my expectations.
posted by Glibpaxman at 9:40 PM on January 23, 2009


I saw "Slumdog Millionaire" tonight and it made my heart soar.
posted by ColdChef at 9:41 PM on January 23, 2009


Don't worry, someone will be along to tell you that it's racist in a bit.
posted by Artw at 9:54 PM on January 23, 2009


MetaFilter: Your favorite blackface sucks.
posted by mazola at 10:35 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can guarantee you that in the decades to come, when people want to study the culture and the film of 2008, they will examine Dark Knight in depth.

I couldn't disagree more. The film will be forgotten in a very short amount of time, just like the other film that made a billion dollars. NO ONE thinks that Titanic is any more than a piece of shit that, for whatever reason/excuse/explanation, many people went to see. AND Titanic, I believe, is a the better of the two films. It's certainly better structured, paced, and, on the whole, acted. To paraphrase Scott Robinson, DK is a mustard burp: momentarily tangy then forgotten in the wind.

"You guarantee that in decades to come..." I guarantee the opposite. I'd put money on it. As a story? As a film? As a pointer to the culture of the times? Completely insignificant.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:37 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops, should be Scott Rosenberg.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:37 PM on January 23, 2009


IMO, Dark Knight would have made a great comic book. But it simply doesn't work as a film.
posted by bardic at 10:44 PM on January 23, 2009


..or people will calm down a bit and think it's sort of okay, but not the second coming.
posted by Artw at 10:45 PM on January 23, 2009


"but not the second coming"

No, that would be Watchmen. And if that sucks as hard as Dark Knight may you all delight in my bitter tears of nerd-rage.
posted by bardic at 10:47 PM on January 23, 2009


bardic, Happy-Go-Lucky didn't really have a script as such, it was improv worked out over lots of rehearsals. Not sure, but I think Mike Leigh thinks that the actual words spoken aren't as important as the tone and acting. Totally agree that it had strong performances, and was amazing - and will be completely overlooked during award-season.
posted by harriet vane at 11:38 PM on January 23, 2009


Of course Watchmen is going to suck because A) it's practically unfilmable and B) Zack Snyder is directing it.
posted by crossoverman at 11:41 PM on January 23, 2009


Heh. Is anyone actually voicing opinions of Watchmen other than "well maybe it won't suck"?
posted by Artw at 11:45 PM on January 23, 2009


I'm honestly not sure whether you're being facetious.

I was.

The movie is so shoddily plotted that scenes are not so much concluded as abandoned; characters are pushed here and there aimlessly like the pawns of an amateur at chess. The title character disappears for ten or fifteen minutes offscreen at a time and no one seems to miss him, and the the most interesting character is left literally hanging in mid-air. It had a few moments of grim brilliance, but the whole thing was an overlong, underthought mess.

However, having seen the indifferent Batman Begins, I didn't have very high expectations for The Dark Knight and I found it sporadically entertaining, but I am baffled by the BEST MOVIE EVAR crowd. Christ, if that is the best movie you have ever seen, you really need to see more movies. It wasn't even the best superhero movie of last summer.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:19 AM on January 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


To be fair, if you took Downey out of Iron Man that movie would flag too - it's not as schizophrenic as Dark Knight but it's a bit superhero by numbers. I think both are examples of movies that have been raised up high by outstanding performances.
posted by Artw at 12:24 AM on January 24, 2009


>I saw "Slumdog Millionaire" tonight and it made my heart soar.

Don't worry, someone will be along to tell you that it's racist in a bit.


Yay! Now it's sexist too.
posted by Artw at 11:48 PM on January 25, 2009


Can anyone can name a character trait of the female lead in Slumdog Millionaire?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:26 AM on January 26, 2009


"wears yellow"?
posted by Artw at 12:51 PM on January 26, 2009


If I say "pragmatically self-sacrificing" it's not really going to go over well as a positive character trait, is it?
posted by Artw at 12:53 PM on January 26, 2009


"Cute"?

Actually she shows some above average determination in a couple of scenes
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:58 PM on January 26, 2009


Jeezus crow, you guys have hate. Bags and bags of hate. So if TT doesn't deserve to win (which I whole-heartedly agree with) and TDK doesn't deserve to win, what does? I mean..... are all you guys Twilight fans or something? What's the best movie YOU saw this year?

Let The Right One In
posted by Bageena at 5:14 PM on January 27, 2009


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